§ LORD MOUNT-TEMPLE
said, the Robing Room was the only part of the Westminster Palace in which the wall paintings were left in a fragmentary and lop-sided condition, urgently requiring completion. The subjects to be illustrated in this apartment were Law and Judgment; the Law given on Mount Sinai; the Beatitudes delivered on the Mount; the Judgment of Daniel and of Solomon; only half were on the walls. Although Mr. Herbert had no legal claim, he was the proper person to receive the commission, as long as his powers of execution continued. He had devoted many years of anxious and laborious study to the designs of the remaining pictures, and to the accumulation of appropriate materials. His "Moses" had impressed multitudes, and had commanded the admiration of the most competent authorities; and it would not be easy to fix upon anyone to whom the commission could so safely be intrusted.
§ LORD LAMINGTON
said, he thought that Mr. Herbert had been very badly treated in this matter. On the understanding that he was to execute the whole of the paintings for the Peers' Robing Room, Mr. Herbert had de, voted much time to the study of the subjects for those pictures. He had, moreover, refused some very good offers of commissions from the Colonies, and also from Berlin; and now it appeared that after all his studies and preparations the agreement entered into with Mr. Herbert was not to be carried out.
, in reply, said, he feared he should be compelled to enter into some details in order that their Lordships might be able to form a correct judgment on the matter. The circumstances of the case, so far as they could be gathered from the Correspondence in the Office of Works, were as follows:—The Fine Arts Commissioners in 1850 entered into au agreement with Mr. Herbert, whereby he was to paint a series of nine pictures at a cost of £9,000. The time for completion was to be not less than 10 years. The estimated proportional cost of these pictures varied. The large one of "Moses com- 691 ing down from the Mount" was put at £2,000. The "Judgment of Daniel" at £1,800. The "Judgment of Solomon" at £1,800, and "Daniel in the Lions' Den" at £566. Mr. Herbert was to paint these pictures in the Peers' Robing Room; but it was not until 1858—that was to say, eight years after the agreement was signed—that the room was completed in its interior decoration and ready for his occupancy. In 1863 the Fine Arts Commission dissolved, and it then devolved upon the Office of Works to carry on the arrangements in this matter. In 1864 Mr. Herbert, who had completed the great picture of "Moses coming down from Mount Sinai," asked for a reconsideration of the remuneration he ought to receive by reason of his having to adopt instead of fresco painting, which had proved a failure, the newly-discovered process of water glass painting, which would lead to an indefinite prolongation of the time, labour, and necessary cost of completing the work. The matter was referred to the Treasury, which ordered an inquiry into the arrangements made between Mr. Herbert and the Fine Arts Commissioners. This inquiry resulted in a sum of £3,000 being given to Mr. Herbert, in addition to the £2,000 already paid to him for the Moses picture; and a further agreement was made in the early part of 1866 for the completion of the "Judgment of Daniel." By this agreement it was stipulated that £4,000 in all was to be paid for that picture, and it was to be completed within three and a-half years from that date. The original agreement for the series of nine paintings was then cancelled by a Treasury letter, and Mr. Herbert gave a distinct assurance that he would make no further claim unless the other pictures were proceeded with under a fresh contract. Although, under the agreement of 1866, the "Judgment of Daniel" was to be completed in 1869, it was not until 1880, and after considerable pressure had been brought to bear upon Mr. Herbert from various quarters, that the picture was finally completed and handed over to the First Commissioner of Works. Under these circumstances, and inasmuch as the water glass process, which had been adopted, not only proved very much more costly in execution than the previous fresco painting that had been contracted for, but also caused an in- 692 definite amount of delay, he regretted that it was not in his power to hold out to the noble Lord any assurance, or, indeed, any hope that the Office of Works would now call on Mr. Herbert to execute the original designs.
§ LORD EMLY
said, he deeply regretted the course taken by the Office of Works. The work that had been already executed by Mr. Herbert was a credit to him and also to the country; and it was a great pity that for the sake of some further small sum of money they should not take advantage of Mr. Herbert's great ability and of the studies which he had made. He thought it a disgrace to leave the Robing Room in its present unfinished state. No doubt, Mr. Herbert had no legal claim upon the Government for the completion of the work; but he thought he ought to be dealt with generously, considering he had refused other orders so that he might undertake this work, including an order from the Colony of Victoria worth £11,000. For the sake of Art, for the sake of the dignity of that House, and on account of the moral claim which Mr. Herbert had, he deeply regretted the answer given by the noble Lord.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
said, he agreed with the observations of the noble Lord who had just sat down. He trusted the Government would reconsider this question, and not adopt a view which would be singularly ungenerous to Mr. Herbert, and inexpedient in a public point of view. On the noble Lord's own showing, the delays in the completion of the pictures were mainly due to the adoption of the new process in painting, which was urged upon Mr. Herbert by the late Prince Consort; which Mr. Herbert undertook at great expense, and which led him to repaint the Moses picture. When the question of Mr. Herbert's remuneration came before the House of Commons, the feeling was so strong in favour of the work that both Parties urged an increase of price; and he believed Mr. Bright himself pressed upon the Government the desirability of increasing the price of the work. Both on the grounds of fairness to Mr. Herbert, and of public expediency, he thought it would be a great misfortune if the pictures were not completed. He believed that the principle upon which the agreements with Mr. Herbert were entered into was 693 that he should be the person to complete the work; and he thought Mr. Herbert had a strong claim upon the ground of the time and labour employed, and of the devotion with which he had undertaken the work. Those who knew Mr. Herbert were aware that he had thrown himself heart and soul into that work, and had, indeed, sacrificed private interests to it. He himself knew of instances in which Mr. Herbert had declined lucrative commissions in order that he might be able to devote himself to this work. He desired to make the following suggestion. The walls of the Robing Room were divided into four large panels and three or four smaller ones. Two of the large panels had been filled in, one with "Moses on Mount Sinai," and the other with the "Judgment of Daniel." Two remained to be completed, and successive Governments had paid Mr. Herbert a slight instalment of his remuneration for the work. He would propose that one, if not two, of these great panels should be completed. Lately they had had different kinds of pictorial ornamentation, some good, some bad, and some indifferent; but the general consensus of opinion was that Mr. Herbert had a style essentially his own, which qualified him to rank with the greatest painters of the time of Henry VIII.; and no other hand than his ought to be allowed to interfere with the work which he had begun. His work was acknowledged to be very good, and it would be a thousand pities if it should be allowed to fall into ruin in order to save a little expenditure. The Chairman of Committees was accustomed to sit in their Lordships' Robing Room, and the work which he transacted there was a remarkable contrast in its dryness to the pictures on the walls. The same contrast existed in the great Council Chambers of Italy, where, in former times, politicians and merchants transacted their business. Mighty Governments had passed away, and the merchants had gone to dust; but on the walls the great pictures of Saints and Angels remained, to delight the present generation. In the same way the pictures in their Lordships' House wore designed to exist for a long time; and he, therefore, strongly urged that they should be completed and maintained in their harmonious integrity, unharmed and unspoiled by the inconsistencies of any other band.
§ THE EARL OF REDESDALE (CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES)
said, he thought it would be only fair to Mr. Herbert to allow him to execute, at least, one other picture on the wall opposite to the "Judgment of Daniel."